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George Floyd's Brother And The Attorney For The Floyd Family On Chauvin's Sentencing

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd, has received his sentence, read here by Judge Peter Cahill.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PETER CAHILL: The sentence for count one - the court commits you to the custody of the commissioner of corrections for a period of 270 months. That's two, seven, zero.

CHANG: George Floyd's family and their attorney spoke to the press following the sentencing, and they echoed a refrain heard across the country for more than a year now.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BEN CRUMP: Say his name.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: George Floyd.

CRUMP: Say his name.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: George Floyd.

CRUMP: Say his name.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: George Floyd.

CHANG: Family attorney Ben Crump led that chorus and joins us now along with Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd.

Welcome to both of you.

CRUMP: Thank you.

PHILONISE FLOYD: Thank you.

CHANG: So I want to start with you, Philonise. The sentence of 22 1/2 years - it's 10 years beyond the minimum required by sentencing guidelines but short of the 30 that the prosecution had originally called for. How satisfied are you personally with this sentence?

FLOYD: I just think he should have received the maximum amount. This is just accountability. I think this was a slap on the wrist. And, you know, a lot of people are looking at this, and they want to know what's going on with America. But at the same time, he did get sentenced, so that was a good thing. But that was basically one of the things that the world has watched all over again. We never thought that we'd have a police officer even get time in jail like this.

CHANG: Well, Minnesota Public Radio did note today that Chauvin is the first white police officer in Minnesota to face prison time for the killing of a Black man. And, Ben Crump, I want to ask you, what do you think made things different in this case, not only seeing a conviction here but to get still a pretty substantial sentence?

CRUMP: Well, I think it was Darnella Frazier courageously recording that video that went viral and galvanized people all across America and all across the world. I know Philonise and I received calls from people internationally on a regular basis saying until we get justice for George Floyd, none of us can breathe. And so you had all these protesters that went far beyond just our community. You have multiculture, multigenerational, multigeographical people all coming together for George Floyd. And so I think that is what is different about this. But I pray - I pray - that a white police officer being convicted for the unjustified killing of a Black person won't be the exception. It will be the norm that they get accountability, and they get sentenced to prison.

CHANG: Well, I want to ask about that. Philonise, I mean, do you feel that Chauvin's conviction and sentencing here - does it feel like a unique exception to you when it comes to cases of police violence? Or do you feel that this moment is the beginning of a possible new path?

FLOYD: Basically, now just viewing everything - we think about Pamela Turner of Baytown, Texas. She didn't get justice yet. You think about Breonna Taylor. She didn't receive any justice. Eric Garner - he didn't receive any justice - so many others all across America that we're still fighting for. So when they're looking at what's going on, everybody had the same thing going on in my head. Justice for George means freedom for all, but it's not freedom for all until these police officers are convicted because you can be charged for murder. But murder is not anything until you get convicted and get your time.

CHANG: Well, we should note that Chauvin's story, at least the story of his prosecution, is not completely over. He is also facing trial on federal charges. And, Philonise, can you talk about - how is your family preparing for that?

FLOYD: Basically, the same thing we always are - we pray. We are a big family. We speak and talk about different things and just try to console each other, making sure that we can get through what's going on. It's been over a year. And times have been hard, but we were able to prosper just believing in the one and only one that we believe in, and that's our Lord Jesus, our savior Jesus Christ, so that's basically it. We're going to keep fighting, and we're going to keep pushing. We have Ben over here on the left (laughter). And you'll look up, I have Al on my right. That's Al Sharpton, so we're going to always push, and we're going to always fight. That's one thing I learned from them. We'll never stop battling.

CRUMP: Amen.

CHANG: I am curious about one thing, Ben Crump. Chauvin did speak briefly today, and he said, quote, "there's going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest, and I hope things will give you some peace of mind." Ben, do you have any idea what he might have meant by that?

CRUMP: I do not. I know there are federal charges that are pending. And apparently, you have to make a colloquy in a federal plea, so maybe he's talking about putting something in that statement. But we have no idea what Derek Chauvin meant by stating that to George Floyd's family.

CHANG: OK. Well, Ben, I did also want to ask you about the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Congress has yet to pass it. Do you expect the outcome of this trial to have any impact on the prospects of passing that bill eventually?

CRUMP: I do. I think, as Philonise said, the jury has - saw the evidence. And it was clear to them that he was guilty and that this conduct was reprehensible and inhumane and that now we need our national leaders to be responsible and pass meaningful police reform in the name George Floyd. We have this moment before us, and we should not squander it. We should take advantage of it. His brother's blood will be on that legislation. And I do believe we will get the George Floyd Justice in Policing accountability act passed, and it will come with the influence from what happened here in Minneapolis with this criminal conviction of Derek Chauvin.

CHANG: And finally, Philonise, I know that you and your family are still in the middle of so much right now. But I do want to ask if today, of this moment seeing Derek Chauvin get sentenced, does it feel like some closing of a chapter for you and your family?

FLOYD: Pretty much I don't really think so because we still wish George was here. We - you know, we're going to always have George on our mind.

CHANG: Yeah.

FLOYD: The things that's going on with Chauvin - we expect him to get time because if it was me, they would have put me in jail for some gum for the same - the same time I did it, I'd have went to jail if I would have stole a pack of gum out the store the same day. The fact that he went home and was able to sleep in his bed while my brother was laying in the morgue - that is devastating to any society across America. The communities are all marching, and they will continue to march because they don't want this to happen to any other family - any other family.

CRUMP: I was just going to say it's always a journey to justice. It's always - one chapter may end, and another begins.

CHANG: Ben Crump is the attorney for George Floyd's family, and Philonise Floyd is George Floyd's brother.

Thank you both very much for joining us today.

CRUMP: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.